Archive for April, 2011

Out of Print

Bulbs – Infirmary Of Dream (self released, 2008)


BulbsHarper Pools

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Download Infirmary Of Dream
 
Bulbs, who you might remember from that split with Mouthus on Important, haven’t been very active lately. I figured since their old Infirmary Of Dream tape doesn’t seem available anymore, I’d share it with you guys.

This is a killer warble filled hiss mess of fractured rain forest noises. Deep hum rumbling down hills of lush muffled squawks, thick n thin drones mixed with bubbling nonsense and airy clatter, recorded under water and in outer space, aliens taking a stab at glitch pop and failing gloriously, truly weird & truly enjoyable. So. Fucking. Cool.

Album Review

Kamil Kowalczyk – Aurora (Prototyp Produktions, 2011)


Kamil KowalczykPlasma

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Kamil Kowalczyk isn’t really a name… yet. He’s put out some work on the Zenapolae net label under a few different monikers including Machine Thoughts and Maszyna_02, but this is Kowalczyk’s first release under his newly formed label. His physical debut, Aurora, is some looong minimal space drone that’s a fantastic way to get noticed.

This is some seriously minimal stretched out hypno ambience, with the first of two tracks clocking in at over a half hour. “Model II” is space, being trapped in the nearly empty nothing. All that you have is the slow hum of your life support as you float past bubbling arpeggios & muffled stardust. Hidden mechanical surges and clicks disturbing your cryogenic trance as the hum shifts gears. Very little going on, a glacial electronic flow with all the right subtleties. The second track, “Plasma,” is only slightly less longer at 25 minutes, but it picks up the pace a little bit. Instead of meandering in the ether, you’ve been sucked into the orbit of a haunted sunless planet. A bass pulse from beyond, unnerving highs setting the scene for impending terror. Still minimal as fuck, but plenty of weird shit going on, layers of buzzing & throbbing, a static slow-mo bad dream.

Aurora is all about the space drone. This is probably the one record that most embodies the genre. It’s a massive planar slumber, no destination, just infinite drift in sci-fi silence. Really hoping Kowalczyk keeps up with the long form ’cause this record is fuckin sweet. Everyone take heed.

Video

High Aura’d – Dusk Latitudes

Stunned is putting out a split tape with High Aura’d (Boston bliss guitar droner) & André Foisy (half of Locrian) and it’s super fucking awesome. Until a) I get a review posted or b) the tape comes out, you can wet your lips with this excerpt of “Dusk Latitudes,” High Aura’d’s side of the magical burner.

Out of Print

Grant Beran – The Another Ones (Postmoderncore, 2008)


Grant BeranThe Man In The High Castle

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Download The Another Ones
 
I picked this up a few years back and never reviewed it (stupid). Then I played a track from it on the short lived (and hopefully soon to be revived) AGB Radio last fall. Apparently Grant noticed when I posted the playlist for the show and he contacted me, pointing out that his album The Another Ones was available for free on archive.org because it’s under a CC license. So I’m not sure if you can still buy this CD or not, but I thought it was relevant enough to make it an OOPs post.

The Another Ones is a textured walk down warped vinyl lane. Beran is a master of turntablism, crafting gritty and distorted jams that sound like Philip Jeck teamed up with Eric Copeland. It’s a bizarre combination for sure, one I don’t think I ever would have thought of on my own but TOTALLY fucking pumped that exists. Some of the tracks have a drugged poppy beat winding through like an underground synth played at a troll party in a B-movie, others are wind chime backyard factory burners, there’s haunted flame drone, muffled Muzak, alien industrial techno, and falling electro stars played through high hissing tape. These songs sound like they’ve been roofied and dragged through a tar pit, putting up the mildest resistance while forced to dance in a hazy disco cave, everything stretched out to a taffy like drone. So fucking cool on every level, each song just as fucked up as the last.

It feels weird calling this a sample based album because nothing is recognizable and everything is wicked twisted but all the sounds Beran is conjuring seem like they’re coming from ancient dusty debased records so there’s really no way around it. Either way, “all the music has been created using a very old record player, second hand microphones, discarded tape recorders and various bits of wire.” AND IT’S FREE. Good job, Grant Beran.

Haiku Review

Pizza Party – Perimeter Stills (self released, 2011)


Pizza PartyHigh Bodies

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Perimeter Stills (download)
/synth groove space crunches/
/next-gen John Hughes drone beat bliss/
/chillmax bash hero/

Album Review

Jakob Battick & Friends – Bloodworm Songs (Horsehouse Ltd, 2011)


Jakob Battick & FriendsLeper K

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I think Jakob Battick is reaching maximum velocity and he hasn’t even put out a full length yet. Bloodworm Songs is his third EP in the past couple years, each with the promise of a long player on the horizon, and each one getting darker and weirder. This one is by far the darkest & weirdest yet, which means it’s fucking great.

There are two tracks that are straight up drone/noise, which is already another step in the “(not) folk” category, starting off with “My First Bloodworm Song (Up In The Sky),” a vintage sample heavy soup of murky squeaks and layered droney radio show intros, and then later on “Our Second Bloodworm Song (Fed Through Isinglass)” with a nauseating swirl of unnerving strings & creaking chaos. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a “folk” record start out with such bizarre sounds and then actually continue to keep up the mayhem, especially on a 5 song EP.

The other three more song oriented tracks are honestly some of the most depressing blackfolk I’ve ever heard. It’s slow and bleak, resonating through an empty attic with a dead body slumped over in the corner. It’s simultaneously warm & cold, a lush and collaborative ode to decay, feeling like it was recorded on a porch in the middle of a thunderstorm, damp & musty, collections of busted instruments played by weary ghosts, desperately trying to light a spark in the desolate prairie.

And then it finishes up with “Nine Brothers & The Wolf,” a revamped and extended 10 minute version of the 6 minute one on Heavy The Mountains, Heavy Are The Seas. That was easily my favorite track from that album and I was a little disappointed when I saw that out of the 5 tracks on this new EP, one of them was a repeat. But sweet fucking lord I am SO glad they re-recorded it, because the new version is a million times more bitter, doomed & somber soaked to the fuckin bone, a funereal death march of the greatest heartache and the most glorious bittersweet beauty, harmoniums squeezing the life out of your soul, vocals streaming with tears of despair & misery, strings & guitars dressing your heart up in burial robes, drums plodding to the torturous end, this is the most gorgeously melancholic song ever written.

I think I might not be able to handle a full length from Battick & pals, especially considering when I write over 500 words for a 5 song EP. Bloodworm Songs is just outstanding in every way, and knowing that each release Battick puts out is better than the last is enough to have me foaming at the mouth for whatever’s next. Plus he mentioned to me he’s working on a “curse songs” album, which is just the coolest fucking thing I can think of him doing. And this record has some insane packaging, with lots of layered black & white printed vellum and transparencies of appropriately grim imagery, courtesy of Horsehouse Ltd. Limited, obviously, and super fuckin cheap.

Album Review

David Tagg – “I Am The Wolf” (Second Sun, 2011)


David TaggWolf Suite I

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The last I heard of David Tagg he made Pentecost, a soft pink album of reel to reel tape organ drones. According to Discogs, that’s the last thing he released, but he’s got a new album on Second Sun, which is a label that doesn’t churn out excessive amounts of records (in fact this is their first release for 2011) so it’s always a treat when one comes out and you damn well better pay attention to it.

“I Am The Wolf” retains that textured tape warble but mostly sheds the organcore from Tagg’s last, taking sides with his pal Brian Grainger and soaring through guitar drone fields. Three tracks, one 30+ minutes, checking in at just over an hour, allowing plenty of breathing room & exploration in the depths of loneliness. This is an album of non-depressive melancholy, a warm gloom that doesn’t suck you into a spiraling suicidal nightmare. Sadness is abound but it isn’t overwhelming, it’s like a dreamlike daze, walking through life noticing the beauty while everything’s washed in grey. Soft guitars smoothed out into a hiss filled plain, weaving tones dancing under patchy clouds of unspooled tape. “I Am The Wolf” is a gorgeously secluded island inhabited by your own hopes & anxieties.

This takes an approach that I can really appreciate, not the “all or nothing” style that’s so typical. There’s a delicacy that I can’t quite catch, and I think it has to do with the elusive emotions mixed with the album title and art. So there’s that ghostly rad/creepy dude on the cover, with a photo of a plane dropping bombs on the inside, and a dedication “in loving memory of Paul ‘Pops’ Sparber.” Maybe this is an ode to a family veteran who used to fly bomber planes and was known as “The Wolf?” Maybe it’s supposed to be a statement on the wolfiness of war? Or mmaayyyybe Tagg has dreams of becoming a pilot but instead of dropping bombs he drops stereos like Craig Colorusso’s Sun Boxes into wolf land, blasting “Wolf Suites I-III” with subliminal wolf messages so he can command a wolf army and turn Earth into Wolf Planet. Just a theory.

Tagg’s new record is truly wonderful, an endless haze of subtlety that does to sounds what sun beams do to afternoon mist. Whether he’s wielding a guitar or an organ, this dude keeps the tape aesthetic stimulating and he’s made sure he’s on my radar for future releases. “I Am The Wolf” is a fuckin winner.

MUSIC RUINS LIVES


Tom VourtsisGhost Doze

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When a new Music Ruins Lives release comes out, I tell myself that I’m gonna review it. Because MRL are my pals, because sometimes they offer it up to me ahead of time for (p)reviewing, but mostly because every release is balls to the wall AWESOME. Taking a quick inventory, I’ve only written about one of their 7 releases (or 10+, depending how you count). That’s a pretty shitty ratio when every album is top fucking notch.

Since I’m 9 deep in MRL reviews and would never have time for all of them, I decided to do the next best thing. Mash ‘em up in a big MRL dedication post.

So Music Ruins Lives is run by two dudes, one of which is Thom Wasluck of Planning For Burial. The other is Michael Britten, who I only know from his coolness on Twitter/Facebook. MRL kinda started as an outlet for a physical release of the Have A Nice Life demos, Voids, but also for getting devastating shit out there like the killer PFB/Lonesummer Split, unheard of weirdo metalgazer Airs, and the mysteriously strange droney Greys. The last two releases have gone soft, with Bad Braids‘ tape of psych folkness and a new Tom Vourtsis CD that’s even better than his free gorgeous static ambient album The Driver. But the two upcoming albums are shifting gears again, with the dark n droney Sequences/Isolated Existence split and Life In The Dark‘s double disc of glorious gloom.

There is so much to love about MRL, not including the fact that they’re one of the most consistently kickass labels running right now, but everything they do is made by hands of fury, limited and hand numbered. They’re even amazing enough to post the sold out albums for free downloading, or nice hi-fi tracks if you want to chip in a few bucks. That’s including the HANL demos, the PFB/Lonesummer split, Airs, Greys, and the PFB single, all for you. There’s the “Negative Series” which is unofficial stuff, like the bonus Lonesummer live set that came with the PFB/Lonesummer split if you were one of the first 30 pre-orders, which you can now download for free. And you can preview the tunes before you jump in.

They’re doing it so right. They’re doing exactly what you would want from a label and they do it while releasing the BEST fucking music. Everyone throw money at them, please, I want them to stick around.

Album Review

Mountains – Air Museum (Thrill Jockey, 2011)


MountainsThousand Square

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FUCK. Mountains have blown me away with every release. After thinking I would never find out anything about the band behind the brilliance of Sewn, they caught me way off guard and dropped the stunning Choral in 2009 (original authorized review deleted from Blogger, eat a dick Google) and now Air Museum takes a new approach, totally exceeding the insanely high expectations I had for it. All you need to do is take a look at my last.fm stats to prove I’m not fucking around with this record.

Mountains have ditched the electroacoustic computer processing on Air Museum, instead opting for a more analog approach and running their usual instruments (guitar, accordions, etc) through pedals and synths and shit. So this is probably their least electronic based record but easily their most electronic sounding record. It sounds SO goddamn synthy. This is their trip to outer space. They’re not there yet, but they’re en route, soaring through the mesosphere.

This is what I want to permeate every moment of my life. Every little detail on this record is pure heaven. The opening track, “January 17,” has this sound that’s so subtle, but it fucking kills me every time. For the first minute, the song is all primer, chill smoothed out organ layers paving the way for the bliss to come, and a split second before it REALLY kicks in and gets all gauzy grandeur, there’s a quick bubbly sonar blip that just floors me. It’s so perfect.

Mountains bounce back and forth between straight up drone and pulsing minimal space techno, keeping a nice balance, never cemented in their textured planar earthly past but not jumping ship for the OPN New Age. They mix it SO well, the sterile jet cabin air static on “Newsprint” breathes life into silver woven blankets, preceding one of the most amazing fucking tracks EVER, “Sequel,” with its surging synth rhythm and gut-wrenchingly glorious sprays of warm golden euphoric harmonies, layers upon layers of sun drenched buzz & twinkle, humming the tune of Platonic perfection and painting everything in absolute beauty, mesmerizing & dazzling enough that Death could arrive and you wouldn’t even notice.

I had pretty much put Choral on an untouchable pedestal, imagining Mountains would never be able to outdo themselves. However, instead of making another but better Choral, they made something different but every bit as fucking great. Mountains achieved what Belong didn’t. They broadsided me, again, and this time I really thought I was ready for it. Mountains are fucking IT, man. They’re prescient visionaries. I want them to do something, and they say, “Ok, but what you really want is this.” So they do what they want and in the process make the greatest fucking records of our generation.

Micro-AGB


As I’m sure most of you have noticed, the blog hasn’t ben as densely populated with awesomeness lately. That’s mostly because I’m working towards my masters, but specifically these past couple weeks I’ve been working on a research paper. However, even when I don’t have time for blogging, I’m pretty active on Twitter.

I’m not doing shit like @1000TimesYes but I definitely try to keep it as music related as possible. Meaning maybe you might be a little interested in what I’m talking about. What I’m trying to offer you is a different way in which I share music. Even if you don’t have your own Twitter account, you can still follow mine. Just something to keep in mind if you get bored & lonely on the blog proper.

Concert Review

Neptune, The Skull Defekts & Daniel Higgs, Zomes at Great Scott

Zomes: two overturned buckets acting as chair & synth stand, drum machine beats from dingy basement, sweeping lo-fi organ loops, ultimate in gritty hypnosis

The Skull Defekts & Daniel Higgs: cosmic religion sweat, in your face rhythms for fucking & rocking, bust it out, dig in

Neptune: industrial electronic skree beats, dark & stormy brooding chaos, acid spew, grinding rust
 
 

Zomes

 
The Skull Defekts & Daniel Higgs




More photos after the jump

Album Review

Brian Grainger – Silver Horns Heard Over Green Hills (Secret Station, 2010)


Brian GraingerTriad (Of Overcast Repetitions)

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Brain Grainger is an endless geyser of guitar drone with unmatched skillz. The dude just won’t fuckin quit. Last year alone he put out about a dozen albums (including those as Milieu). FUCK. There’s no way I can keep up with reviewing all the awesomeness. But Silver Horns Heard Over Green Hills was put out by Secret Station, a label I barely know from the free Lunar Testing Lab release, and it’s two discs so I figured it deserved my attention.

First of all, everything Grainger puts out is pure wonder. This is no different, except for the fact that there’s two and a quarter hours of wonder. I have yet to be able to listen to both discs straight through in one sitting. That’s good news, obviously, because there’s no such thing as too much drone.

There is an abundance of variance on Silver Horns, even for a minimal guitar drone record. Still, those 2+ hours have lots of themes & structures that run throughout, making it impressively cohesive without ever becoming boring or tiresome, never turning itself into a chore. Grainger sweeps it all together in a massive pile of sadbliss, pouring thick coats of misery & futility over glimmering joy. There are murky deeps swarming with confusion and dark clouds rolling over gloom soaked valleys, drone that’s devastating in the amount of depression & dread it evokes.

But there’s another side of the story, which isn’t so much pure bliss as it is a warm blanket of hope, the silver lining, the knowledge that heartfelt praise is right around the corner and you just need to wait out the storm. It’s as beautiful & uplifting as hopeless drone gets, eliciting euphoria out of heavenly darkness in a way that only Grainger can manage. The bliss is there, it’s just more difficult to see. Once you hone in on it and can fully appreciate the breadth of Silver Horns, you’re golden, and it becomes one of your favorite drone records.